This latest release from the Swedish hardcore trio False Highs transports us to their hometown of Gävle, with top notch production and a dark, ambient hardcore presence captured from within the walls of The Overlook, an old 1891 sailor's church, by mixing/mastering engineer William Blackmon.
From the onset, "The Blues" sets the stage with a choir of dissonant feedback from the guitar amps, building up to the shattering drum entrance of "Ghost of Burden". This is where the album really opens up to its fruits, as we are brought into a heavy chord anthem and the opening powerful screamed vocals "I hold my breath to see if I'm alive". Throughout the song, we are treated with a beautiful combination of dissonant chords, with soaring leads above the solid driving bass and drum foundation. "Pretender" continues the onslaught, opening with an epic drum roll, and transitioning into atmospheric, melodic hardcore guitar riffing. The emotive verses are bookended by intelligent and inspirational lyrics, such as "I won't let this be the end of me". The band then drops heavy with staccato rhythms during the bridge that are undeniably deep and follow up with a sludgy instrumental outro.
"Empty Walls" opts for a frantic minor key progression with crashing, aggressive drumming and bass. "Shiver", arguably the most dynamic song of the album, features tasteful reverse delay effects and demonstrates False Highs can also dial it back into cleaner passages. "A Tragedy Undone" is a slower, mostly instrumental piece which then turns sideways and delves into bone-crushing heavy chugging riff passages. The album concludes with "What's Truly Lost", an almost completely instrumental ambient outro track, save for crooning dirty vocals as the guitar trills take us beyond the steeples of The Overlook.
For fans of aggressive guitar-forward tones and dirty vocals with emotionally heavy subject matters, False Highs will hauntingly resonate and deliver on this album. Thoughtful songwriting, tasteful gain and a dark, ambient style propel Olle, Erik and Gustav's respective instruments and culminate in their unique sound on this solid melodic, yet dissonant, hardcore release.
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